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Pension Dispute Delays NBA All-Star Game

Jan. 14, 1963 - A threatened player strike by the country’s greatest professional basketball stars was averted at the last moment tonight at Boston Garden by NBA President Walter Kennedy. The game’s start was delayed 17 minutes. Although both sides later denied it, the Boston Globe reported that the players on both squads actually took a vote on whether or not to play the game. The first vote tallied a slim 11-9 margin for playing, which triggered another discussion among the players. A second vote was called, and it read 13-7 for playing, so the game went on.

Disturbed over negotiations pertinent to the players’ pension fund, 20 members of the East and West squad were closeted in one dressing room five minutes prior to the scheduled start of the annual All-Star game. The league president visited the dressing room and assured the all-stars that their interest in the pension fund would be protected. Kennedy explained the background of the pension technicalities and was asked by the players to withdraw from the dressing room so they might consider the matter among themselves. Kennedy paced the Garden lobby while the stars considered the president’s words. Shortly, Bob Pettit (pictured #9), vice president of the players’ union, came out to say the game would be played. Most of the 13,000 spectators were unmindful of the threatened player rebellion.


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